In a decision issued today, the Supreme Judicial Court unanimously decided that former State Senate President and UMass President William Bulger is entitled to credit toward his pension the cash housing allowance he received from UMass, but not the payments made by UMass into an annuity fund.
According to the opinion, Bulger’s base salary was $309,000 a year when he stepped down. In addition to that, he received a cash housing allowance of $2,419 per month ($29,028 a year), and the university also contributed 7% of his annual salary ($21,630) to an “appropriate tax-deferred investment vehicle.” Because a state employee’s pension is calculated in part on the compensation the employee was receiving at retirement, Bulger sought to include both of these amounts in his compensation, since doing so would increase his pension.
The SJC’s decision is quite technical and depends heavily on the precise language of the pension statutes and on past SJC cases interpreting that language. There are no political bombshells lurking in the decision, as far as I can tell. Bottom line: Bulger will get some, but not all, of what he was looking for.